South Bend, Ind. — Smoking has been around for many years, but it looks different now. Vaping comes in many different forms and flavors, targeting teens and potentially introducing them to the bad habit.
Due in part to the success of anti-smoking campaigns by organizations like the American Cancer Society and QuitNet, cigarette-smoking has decreased steadily amongst teens in the past decades.
Cigarettes have been considered to be “off-putting” for the younger generation, however, there is a new smoking trend that has now become popular with teens.
Vaporizers and e-cigarettes first came to the market in 2007 and have 38.9% of high schoolers addicted as of 2020.
Sandi Pontius, a Tobacco Education Coordinator Saint Joseph Health System said, “They (tobacco companies) went into schools and they talked to classes and they told them that this is a product for adults that you don’t want to use this it is for adults, but just know that when you are an adult it is a perfectly safe product to use.”
Cigarettes in America were the popular smoking trend, but over time and many campaigns later, smoking cigarettes was seen in a different light.
Now vaping has taken center stage for the younger generation.
Sandi Pontius, a Tobacco Education Coordinator with St. Joseph Health System, says that the smoking industry targets youth through flavors, attracting them before they turn 21.
“Flavors have always been one of the tactics that the tobacco industry has used to lure young people to smoke. Fortunately, the government had said no more pod flavors for the Juuls, but they did not extend that to disposables,” said Pontius.
Vape pens have seen a transformation over the years; from thick, handheld devices (mods) that emit more smoke to now smaller pens that more closely resemble flash drives (pods).
Schools are trying to combat the use of vapes by installing sensors and rules against the use of vape pens.
“Some of them have installed sensors that can sense when vapes are being used in the bathrooms. It’s not as effective as you would hope because you still have to get there and catch them,” Pontius said.
The tobacco industry’s marketing isn’t toward those who already smoke, because they are already addicted. Rather, the industry is more interested in keeping the cycle going by attracting new users
“Youth are not already smoking they are not looking to quit for the most part. That stuff wouldn’t have already happened they would’ve left it or kept that marketing toward smokers, but they didn’t,” said Pontius
It is never too late to quit.
Smokefree.gov recommends setting a date to quit, building a support system, creating healthy habits to distract from cravings and learning what factors trigger cravings in the first place.